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Still a local matter

The Suffolk County Water Authority is again taking its “mandate” too far.

The SCWA is not, as they define themselves in their environmental assessment of the proposed wind turbine at Laurel Lake, a “governmental unit.” It is, as their own website states, “an independent public-benefit corporation.” As such, they have no right to bypass Southold Town review or approval processes.

There are many facets to the turbine controversy, such as the environmental impacts on the Laurel Lake Preserve and effects on wildlife, but all are trumped by the concept of home rule. Only Southold Town should have the final say what is and is not built in Southold.

The preservation of Laurel Lake, including its scenic views, wildlife and overall setting are part of Southold Town’s plan and ongoing work. It is not within the SCWA’s purview to determine whether or not the proposed turbine impacts the town’s plan or interests. If they are allowed to overrule the town’s interest, then who’s to say what they can or cannot do elsewhere?

The North Fork Environmental Council recognizes the benefits wind turbine technology has in partially addressing our world’s dependency on fossil fuels, and supports its use, but only where appropriate and where its impact on all other aspects of the environment is comprehensively assessed and minimized.

The SCWA’s own environmental assessment form notes in Part B, item 20, that the proposed project will “substantially affect non-threatened or non-endangered species.” These potential impacts, recognized by all sides, require further study and discussion.

Before any work moves ahead, a comprehensive environmental review should be undertaken and the resulting environmental impact study should serve as the basis of deciding whether this turbine can not only safely coexist with wildlife in the surrounding Laurel Lake preserve and wetlands, but also coexist with Southold Town’s plans and efforts to preserve the natural beauty of Laurel Lake and the surrounding area.

Southold residents cannot remain silent on this effort to usurp the town’s right to control what is built within its borders.

Bill Toedter
president, North Fork Environmental Council